England’s ‘loneliest house’ returns to market
England’s “loneliest house” – a sombre 19th-century shooting lodge nestled in the heart of Skiddaw Forest – has returned to the market after it was put up for sale for the first time in 200 years in 2021.
For sale, too, is the 3,000-acre expanse of heather-dusted moorland and three mountaintops surrounding the sequestered Lake District property, built in 1829 by the Earl of Egremont of Cockermouth Castle.
The estate agent selling the land described the sale as an “exciting and unique opportunity to purchase the most remote house in England”.
Indeed, the time-worn lodge and dramatic panorama, beneath the summits of Skiddaw, Great Calva and Little Calva, once served as the setting for Hugh Walpole’s eerie 1932 murder-thriller The Fortress.
Describing Skiddaw’s “wind-swept” valley, Walpole wrote: “Through this vale twisted the mountain torrent, fighting with stones, letting its life be dominated by these piling stones that heaped themselves one on another, that fell in showers down the hillside, that at length perhaps choke the life of the stream and form a stony pathway that leads at last to new shapes of grass and moss and fern.”
The stony expanse, also revered by romantic poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and John Keats, was characterised by Walpole as “one of the loneliest dwelling-places in all the British Isles.”
Skiddaw House is situated 1,500 feet above sea level and only accessible by foot or 4×4 vehicle, say Mitchell’s Land and Property, the estate agent selling it today.
Drivers can find an accessible route from Bassenthwaite Village in the north past Whitewater Dash waterfall, while keen ramblers can reach the property on foot from Mosedale in the east and Threlkeld in the south along the Cumbrian way, which, according to the estate agent, boasts “some of the most beautiful and contrasting landscapes Cumbria has to offer”.
The advert for the property takes pains to present the purchase as “an investment opportunity in environmental and habitat protection and the associated developing market of carbon sequestration and nutrient neutrality”.
The land is a beneficiary of two stewardship schemes that seek to restore upland bird and dwarf heathland habitats as well as the peatland bogs scattered across the land.
The estate also anticipates that the block will be invited into Defra’s forthcoming Environmental Land Management Scheme, which could present opportunities to enter either the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Local Nature Recovery and Local landscape recovery Tiers.
But complementary to investment opportunities are the many charms of Skiddaw House, which is entirely off-grid – powered by the sun, supplied with water from a natural spring and kept warm with sheep’s wool insulation and wood-burning stoves.
It is currently used as a youth hostel, but served as a gamekeeper’s lodge, shooting cabin, shepherd’s dwelling, schools field centre and ramblers bothy.
In a statement accompanying last year’s advert for the property, a Mitchells spokesman added: “If you crave isolation and simplicity, Skiddaw House has it in spades.
“As the only dwelling in the 3,00-acre Skiddaw Forest, Skiddaw House is the ultimate bolt hole.
“Possessing endless views, Skiddaw is a source of perpetual inspiration, a place to create art, find peace and live in the sky.”
Viewing is by appointment only and its asking price is by application, though The Guardian reports a value in the region of £10m.